Lyricist Don Black has called for a statue of Andrew Lloyd Webber to be erected on Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End to recognise what he has done for musical theatre.
Black, who worked with Lloyd Webber on Sunset Boulevard and is lyricist on his new musical Stephen Ward, told The Stage the composer should be “lauded as much as he can be” adding that his contribution to theatre could not be exaggerated.
“In America there is a statue in Times Square of [playwright and composer] George M Cohan and there are stamps with Jerome Kern on. There should be a statue on Shaftesbury Avenue [of Andrew] – something for what he’s done,” he said.
Black, who also wrote the lyrics for Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me on a Sunday, added: “Andrew is much maligned and that is daft. I don’t know if it’s envy or silliness or whatever, but it isn’t right because of what that man has done for British theatre.”
The lyricist also claimed critics should try to write a musical, claiming only then would they “realise how well Andrew knows the structure of musicals”.
“He’s studied it in a forensic way,” Black said.
His views were shared by Richard Eyre, who is directing Stephen Ward and who said the media wanted new Lloyd Webber shows to fail because that creates better stories.
“Most successful composer of musicals in the last 40 years falls on his face – that’s a story. Most successful composer in the last 40 years has another success – that is not a story,” he said, adding: “It’s not pleasant and it’s very hard on Andrew but he is, in some ways, very thick skinned. And he’s ambitious for the work, the music and the storytelling. If he wasn’t, he’d be putting his head in a paper bag.”
Stephen Ward will begin previews on December 3 at the Aldwych Theatre, with press night on December 19.